Monday, July 13, 2009

A wedding and a death

At a ceremony held at St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church in Baltimore, presided over by "Rev. Mr. Wyatt," William Clemm Jr. married Maria Poe on July 13, 1817.

Maria Poe was the younger sister of David Poe, Jr. — other siblings were John Hancock Poe, William Poe, George Washington Poe, Samuel Poe, and Elizabeth Poe. She was William Clemm's second wife and their marriage would produce three children: Henry Clemm, Virginia Marie Clemm, and Virginia Eliza Clemm (the first Virginia died as an infant; her younger sister was born the same year and given her name as an honor). That second Virginia Clemm would later marry Edgar A. Poe.

Very little is known about the marriage of William Clemm and Maria Poe Clemm. He already had five children from his first marriage and very little property or money when he had his second marriage. His first wife, in fact, was Maria's first cousin Harriet Poe. He died in 1826 and left what little he had to the five children from his first marriage. It's likely he never met Edgar Poe, who was living overseas with the Allans at the time of this marriage.

A relative of Clemm, presumably a nephew, became minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore — and presided over the three-minute burial service held after Poe's death in 1849.

Today also marks the death of George Rex Graham in 1894. Over his 81-year life, he experienced a series of ups and downs. Between 1839 and 1840, he acquired the Saturday Evening Post and then merged two Philadelphia journals to create Graham's Magazine. Shortly after, he hired Poe as his book review editor at the salary of $800 a year. Though Poe questioned the "namby-pamby" magazine on occasion, he helped lead it to become one of the most prominent publications in the country. Graham was concerned about his writers: his magazine was one of the first in the U. S. to copyright each issue and some writers (if they were paid at all) were granted an average five times more than other magazines. After Poe left, Graham hired Rufus Wilmot Griswold to replace him.

Nevertheless, Graham was pushed into bankruptcy in 1848 and lost controlling interest of both the Saturday Evening Post and Graham's Magazine. The latter magazine ceased publication in 1858. At the age of 70, Graham lost his eyesight and relied on the financial assistance of publisher George William Childs. The one-time powerhouse of American publishing, Graham died in obscurity in Orange, New Jersey on July 13, 1894 and was buried in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery — apparently unmarked (I could not find it after three or four attempts).

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